Ok, gentlemen, sorry, but this one is mostly for the ladies this week! And partly for myself because I need reminding often to readjust my focus to what truly matters.
As I have written before, I try not to let the media and entertainment industry shape my opinions, but as is often the case, I have found yet another exception to my rule. Some things are just designed to make you think, and sometimes you come across something that just makes you say “Yes! That’s what I’ve been feeling too!”
My most recent was Amy Schumer’s movie I Feel Pretty. If you haven’t seen it, basically the movie starts off with Schumer’s character, who is pretty but not beautiful according to the world’s standards, going about her life while trying to conform to the world’s idea of beauty, and failing. She knows, as many of us do, that success in some areas of life is entirely contingent on catching the eye, and so our value is placed in what we look like first and foremost. During a pivotal scene, she takes a fall in a spin class and bumps her head – when she wakes up, we can tell that she has experienced no physical changes, but through her mind’s eye sees herself as beautiful and desirable. She is afraid of scaring her friends because she is so convinced that she looks totally different, and is finally beautiful! Her confidence soars, her winning personality is on display, and she meets the world head-on – success finds her at every turn as she wholeheartedly goes about her life, not letting her looks or physical form hold her back any longer.
At the end of the movie, after she has bumped her head again, and sees herself truly, she puts up two photos of herself during a presentation and is amazed that she actually never looked different after all – it was just her perception of herself that had changed and boosted her confidence. That really got me. I so often am down on myself for my looks, my size and how I don’t compare to the world’s version of beauty more often than not. I confess to seeing the photos in magazines and on Pinterest of the women that are glamorous and beautiful and feeling totally insecure about my own looks. I am a poster child for “pinterest-fails” on curling my own hair, I don’t own a trendy wardrobe, and if you asked me to create a smokey eye, it would probably look like I had been in a bar fight. But if I think of how I view the people in my life, I don’t view them by those standards at all — I don’t see them as just a snapshot, or as a still life. I see them as beautiful for the way that they light up when they hug their kids – the way the tilt their head when they are really listening to me – the way their eyes crinkle at the corners when they are really laughing at something. I see beauty in personalities, in hugs and in warm and open spirits, not in the correctly blended makeup or perfectly curled hair of my people. So many of the most beautiful people that I have known have been beautiful to me for more reasons than their looks, and some of the most outwardly beautiful people I have known have been the most miserable and difficult to love. It is truly confidence and inner beauty that make the difference! Confidence is so hard to maintain sometimes, but once you have it, it is a game changer. Imagine if you saw yourself as that ideal that you have in your head? Would you be unstoppable? Would you live more openly and fearlessly? I know I would definitely approach life differently if I wasn’t always trying to measure up and be something else than what I am.
There is a scene in the movie where Amy’s character meets a gorgeous girl at her gym who is devastated after a bad breakup – she can’t believe that this flawless looking girl was dumped! Who on earth would dump a perfect girl like her? We often mistakenly believe, just like her, that beautiful people have it so much better than we do, and are worth more just because they look better. But what we don’t realize is that inside of that outer shell, emotions, hurt, and fear thrive just like in us. They also have personality flaws, insecurities over relationships, and past issues that surface in their lives that they must overcome. Perfect looks do NOT guarantee a perfect person.
As women, especially, we are taught by society that we need the perfect lip color to be desirable, we need contouring to stand out and be noticed, and we need to have a toned physique and be the perfect size to be loved. Even if you have inner confidence, it is a daily battle to stand strong in the face of the onslaught from television, media, and social media – we need to instead draw our truth from the Scriptures. The Bible says “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” (1 Peter 3:3-4). Our inner confidence should never be built up because of what our bodies of clay look like, but rather because of who we are as daughters of the King. We have worth because He created and loves us, not because we have perfected our makeup application or our wardrobe. Ephesians 2:10 reminds us “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Our Father created us as His masterpiece to do His work in the special and specific way He designed for us individually – if that doesn’t build your confidence, I don’t know what will!
What if we were made to feel desirable by wearing the perfect shade of joy, we stood out by the contours of our smiles, and the size of our hearts and our hugs were perfectly extra large? One of my favorite quotes comes from another movie, The Wedding Date – Dermot Mulroney’s character tells his date, who is lacking confidence as she sees an ex, “Let me teach you a trick: if you look people in the eye, they won’t notice what you’re wearing.” Look people in the eye and love them, and they will never ever remember what you were wearing, or what your hair looked like, they will just remember the way you made them feel.
Another of my favorite quotes, sometimes attributed to F. Scott Fitzgerald, is “She was beautiful, but not like those girls in the magazines. She was beautiful, for the way she thought. She was beautiful, for the sparkle in her eyes when she talked about something she loved. She was beautiful, for her ability to make other people smile, even if she was sad. No, she wasn’t beautiful for something as temporary as her looks. She was beautiful, deep down to her soul. She is beautiful.”
Let’s be beautiful people – let’s have the confidence to attack life knowing that we are good enough, we are beautiful enough, we are strong enough, and we are just the right size. You are the right size to hug a friend. You are beautiful enough to smile and spread joy to strangers. You are confident enough to help a friend without trying to put her down to feel better yourself. Can we make the world beautiful too?
Place value where it belongs. Pursue things that matter in the scheme of eternity. “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart. (1 Samuel 16:7) Worry less about your looks, and more about your heart – go be beautiful!